Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Newsletter Sale Ends Today!

Photo by Jim's Own BBQ Sauce
***Heads up***  Our September Newsletter coupon sale ends at midnight tonight September 30th! Don't miss this chance to save an additional 5% off our already-discounted sale prices at the Carolina Sauces online store. Whether you're looking for a late-season barbecue sauce for tailgating, a tangy Buffalo wing sauce for your game-watching party, a fiery hot sauce to spice up bland food, or a unique hot sauce gift for a special chilehead, we have what you need.

If you received our September newsletter with the special coupon code and haven't ordered yet, or if you already used the coupon to place an order earlier this month, you can use the coupon code AGAIN as long as you do so before midnight.

If you can't find your copy of the newsletter with the coupon code, or if you didn't receive it, you can find it here.

And if you don't currently receive our FREE monthly newsletter with Carolina Sauce coupons, special sales, new product info and featured recipes like the BBQ Chicken & Apricot Kabobs shown in the photo, simply sign up here. You won't want to miss our October issue--trust me on this one....

Zestfully yours,

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Introducing KLB's South Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

If you saw my recent post on how to smoke spare ribs, you got a sneak peak of KLB's BBQ Sauce, an authentic South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce that's finger-lickin' good on ribs.

Well, now it's time to formally introduce you to this big, bold, savory and sassy sauce from our southern neighbor.

Created by Kevin and Latonya Bobo of Charleston, SC, KLB's BBQ Sauce is the real deal. This is not a honey mustard or a sweet barbecue sauce. Rather, this robust sauce delivers that trademark mustard tang that brings out the best in anything you grill, smoke, broil or roast.

Not quite spicy enough to call "hot" but with a pleasant peppery finish, the assertive flavors in this sunny yellow mustard barbeque sauce mellow and deepen during cooking, becoming a well-balanced complement to pork, beef, chicken and game meats.

As the Germans discovered centuries ago, mustard pairs perfectly with pork (and South Carolina's tradition of mustard BBQ sauce can be traced back to German immigrants), so we first tried KLB's BBQ Sauce on smoked spare ribs, slathering it on the ribs during the final 30 minutes of smoking.

The results were amazing: The sauce developed a thin "crust" beneath which some of the still-saucy sauce had melded with the natural juices of the ribs for a mouthwatering burst of flavors, and the meat below all the sauciness was succulent and juicy.  WINNER!!

Although we didn't do it, you could certainly serve more of the sauce at the table as a dipping sauce for folks who like to dip. Likewise, I'm sure you could stir the sauce into pulled or chopped pork barbecue, or use it on beef ribs.

We used essentially the same smoking & saucing technique on smoked chicken legs (but shortened the cooking time, of course), and once again KLB's BBQ Sauce did not disappoint: The sauce kept the chicken moist and imparted a subtle mustard & spice flavor that gently infused the flesh.

Finally, Greg also used some of the sauce to make a mustard slaw: He shredded a head of white cabbage and mixed in enough sauce to coat the cabbage, then stirred in a little apple cider vinegar and sugar, tasting and adding more vinegar and sugar until the balance of flavors was just right.

If you like a savory, tangy mustard slaw without the extra fat of a mayo-based slaw, use KLB BBQ Sauce as your slaw sauce base. We served the mustard slaw with the smoked ribs, and it would be great with fried fish, pulled pork, on a burger or hot dog, or anywhere else you'd serve slaw.

We haven't yet tried this barbecue sauce on seafood, but I bet that tuna steaks and shrimp & veggie kabobs would taste quite good if marinated and then grilled or broiled with KLB BBQ Sauce. If you try it on fish or seafood, please leave a comment to let us know how you liked it.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 28, 2012

Smoky White Bean Dip with Caramelized Red Onions

This white bean dip is a savory, smoky alternative to hummus. Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, are rich in iron, protein and fiber, making them a favorite of vegetarians and vegans. I've topped my dip with caramelized red onions but you can leave those off if you prefer. If you want a spicier dip with peppery zip, use hot smoked paprika instead of mild. Feel free to adjust the seasoning amounts to suit your taste. The better the quality of the balsamic vinegar, EVOO, and smoked paprika that you use, the deeper and more complex the flavor of the dip.

I blended this dip in my food processor for a smooth texture. If you prefer a more rustic, less smooth texture with bits of garlic and bean, use a fork or a potato masher to mash the beans and then stir everything together until thoroughly combined. Serve my smoky white bean dip with raw vegetables, crackers, pita chips, pretzels or other dippables. You can also use it as a filling for wraps, flatbread and sandwiches, just like hummus.

1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Optional topping: Caramelized Red Onions (recipe below)

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and process to blend together, stopping as needed to scrape off the sides of the bowl to better combine. Drizzle in the olive oil while running the processor and continue to process until the oil is completely incorporated and the dip reaches your desired consistency. Serve topped with a spoonful or two of caramelized red onions if desired, or sprinkled with a dash of smoked paprika.

Caramelized Red Onions
1 Tbs olive oil or butter
1 cup roughly chopped red onion

Heat the oil or butter in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stir to coat, and fry, stirring from time to time, until the onions begin to turn golden. Reduce heat and continue to cook, stirring regularly to prevent burning, until the onions turn a deep golden-brown color. Remove from heat and spoon as much as you'd like over the white bean dip. Refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for other uses--caramelized onions are delicious in sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Gloria's Rustic Roasted Ratatouille

Here's my nontraditional take on Ratatouille, a classic summer vegetable dish that can be enjoyed hot, at room temperature, or chilled; as a vegetable side dish; tossed with pasta; eaten with crusty bread to sop up the flavorful liquid; as an omelet or quiche filling; as a pizza or focaccia topping; and many other ways. The traditional version is made on the stovetop with lots of olive oil; my version dramatically cuts back on fat by roasting the vegetables in much less oil. The roasting adds deep, rich layers of flavor so you won't miss the extra oil.

This is classic "throw cooking" so don't get hung up on the amounts listed below, which are merely the quantities I happened to have on hand. I included the weights for many of the vegetables, in case that helps. You could use all shallots or all onions for the combination I used, and use one or more of the following herbs in fresh or dried form (use a third or a quarter less if using dried): Basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram. This recipe makes a large batch, but don't worry because the leftovers can be refrigerated and enjoyed over several days. I used two large roasting pans that fit on the same rack in my oven. You can roast the vegetables in separate batches if necessary, and then mix together in a large bowl (they'll take up much less room after roasting).

30 peeled garlic cloves (or less if you prefer)
1 large green bell pepper (1/2 lb)
1 large red bell pepper (1/2 lb)
1 large zucchini (1 lb)
1 large eggplant (1 1/4 lb)
2 pints cherry and/or grape tomatoes
1 red onion (1/2 lb)
2 large peeled shallots (total 4 oz)
Olive oil, approx. 1/4 cup
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil chiffonade
1 Tbs fresh chopped thyme

Preheat oven to 425°F. Chop the peppers into 1" pieces. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then cut each half into half-moons approx. 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Trim the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each long half again lengthwise in half or thirds depending on width. Cut each long strip into 1/2" to 3/4" thick chunks. Trim the onion, cut into quarters, then cut into 1/2" to 1/4" wide wedges. Cut the shallots lengthwise into 1/4" to 1/2" wide strips. Place all the cut vegetables plus the tomatoes and garlic cloves into a very large bowl (or two smaller ones). Season with salt & pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss gently until all the vegetables are lightly coated with olive oil. Transfer the vegetables into one or two very large roasting pans. Place the pans on the middle oven rack and roast at 425°F for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are very tender but still holding their general shape (the tomatoes will be falling apart), gently stirring after 30 minutes have passed and checking/stirring after another 15 minutes. Depending on your oven and the total quantity of vegetables, it might take as little as 45 minutes to over an hour total cooking time. When the vegetables are done, remove the pan(s) from oven and carefully transfer the roasted vegetables into a large bowl. Gently fold in most of the herbs, reserving a little to add just before serving. Taste for balance and season with additional salt & pepper if desired. Serve hot, or allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company

PS: I'm using some of the leftover ratatouille to make a quiche, so be on the lookout for that recipe in the near future.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Big Bob Gibson White BBQ Sauce is Back!

Alabama is famous for its creamy-tangy mayonnaise-based white barbecue sauce. According to legend, Big Bob Gibson came up with this unique style of barbeque sauce in 1925, and it quickly became a hit among local folk. Today, his grandchildren continue to make this zesty white BBQ sauce at the renowned Big Bob Gibson's Restaurant in Decatur, AL, slathering it on chicken and ribs served up to eager, hungry patrons. Previously unknown outside of Alabama, white BBQ sauce is now sought by barbecue and cooking enthusiasts far and wide thanks to TV food shows and celebrity chefs.

While Big Bob Gibson White Barbecue Sauce is certainly delicious on ribs, in my opinion it's even better with poultry (chicken, turkey or game fowl) and all sorts of fish and seafood. The flavor is subtly tangy with just a touch of peppery kick at the end, and it will complement, not overwhelm, your food. Use it as a marinade and basting sauce for juicy, succulent results on the grill, on the stove or in the oven, and then serve additional sauce at the table for dipping or pouring. Try Big Bob Gibson's White BBQ Sauce as a chicken wing sauce, a dip for raw vegetables or fried finger food, and even poured over a baked potato as a substitute for sour cream or butter. Mix a little bit of white barbecue sauce into mayonnaise-based salads like slaw, potato, egg, chicken, tuna or pasta salad to add some zip, or drizzle it over greens and other vegetables instead of using salad dressing. Try it in recipes that call for ranch dressing, for a change of pace.

You can now purchase this unique award-winning barbecue sauce on our recently updated Southern Foods page on the Carolina Sauce Company website.

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 24, 2012

Greg's Guide to Saucy Smoked Spare Ribs

If you're a BBQ purist, the only way to make ribs is on a smoker. There's simply no other way to achieve that unmistakeable slow-smoked flavor and mouthwatering tenderness.

The secret to perfectly smoked, succulent ribs with that prized pink "smoke ring" is to know how hot to keep the smoker, and how long to cook the ribs. Admittedly, there's as much (some would say more) art or "feel" involved as there is science. But even less-than-perfect smoked ribs are usually at least pleasantly edible, and if they're half-way good they'll be better than ribs cooked indoors. The more you use your smoker, the better you'll get at it, so keep on smokin'.

Here's Greg's step-by-step guide for how to cook spare ribs on a smoker.

1. Using your choice of wood chunks or chips in your smoker, bring the temperature to 225°F.

2. While the smoker is heating, use a sharp knife to cut through the membrane on the back side of the ribs, lifting and pulling off what you can (don't worry if it doesn't all come off).

3. If you want to use a dry rub to season your ribs, now is the time. Sprinkle the BBQ rub on both sides of the ribs, gently patting it onto the meat. Don't actually rub it on, as that can break down the meat fibers and dry it out while it cooks. For this demo, Greg chose not to use a dry rub because we were going to try a new BBQ sauce on the ribs and wanted to taste the true flavor of the sauce. When the smoker reaches 225°F, place the ribs membrane-side down on the smoker grate.

4. Cover the smoker and let the ribs cook for about 2 1/2 hrs or until they are close, but not yet, done. You'll want to monitor the smoker to keep the temperature steady, but resist the urge to open the smoker until well over an hour has elapsed because the more you open it, the longer it will take. Once the ribs are getting pliable but not yet yielding to a twist with tongues, they're ready for saucing. Below is what the ribs looked like after 2 1/2 hours on the smoker.

5. Greg likes to sauce the membrane side first (which was the side on the grate), so he flipped the ribs to drizzle some of the barbecue sauce on the membrane side.

 After spreading that sauce around to cover the surface, he flipped the ribs and liberally poured sauce on the "meaty" side.

He used the back of the grill tongs to spread the sauce, but you can certainly use a basting brush or sauce mop if you have one handy.

6. Close the smoker and continue to cook until the ribs will "give" to a gentle twist of the tongs: This can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, or longer. You want the ribs to be tender enough to pull apart when you twist them, but not falling apart when you handle them, because the latter often means dried-out meat. Below is what the ribs looked like when they were done.

And here's what they looked like, up close and personal.

Note the pink smoke ring just below the sauce "crust." If you're new to smoking, don't let the "pink" fool you into thinking that the meat is undercooked. The pink ring directly beneath the surface of the meat is a natural result of the smoking process. As long as the ribs are tender enough to pull apart, they're done.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Gloria's Hatch Pepper Green Chili

My year-long wait is over: Hatch peppers are back at my favorite grocery store! The name refers to a specific growing region in New Mexico, and because their season is brief, fresh hatch chilies can be difficult to find outside of New Mexico and Texas. When they show up at our local Whole Foods store here in Durham, they're quickly snapped up by eager cooks and chefs who have been waiting for them. Last year I made the mistake of not buying some hatch peppers the day they arrived at the store. By the time I returned a few days later, they were ALL gone. This year I was determined to snag a few the moment I saw them so that I could try my hand at Chile Verde, or New Mexico Green Chili.  

Hatch peppers are the key ingredient needed to make authentic New Mexico green chili (chile verde), a hearty and spicy-hot stew with roots firmly planted in traditional Mexican cuisine. Made with pork or chicken and not as heavily seasoned as "red" chili (i.e., Texas style and other beef/bean chili), New Mexico green chili usually has no tomatoes--although some cooks do add tomatillos--and is made from a deceptively simple list of ingredients. The secret to its complex and yet comforting flavor is in the long, slow cooking, and in the unique flavor of the hatch peppers: Similar in size and shape to Anaheim peppers, Hatch chilies are paler in color, with a subtle tang and "fruity" brightness, and with heat ranging from mildly piquant to as hot as a hot jalapeno. When roasted, their flavor deepens and rounds out, with an earthy richness that's a natural with pork or chicken. Hatch peppers are excellent in many Mexican and Southwestern recipes including chile con queso and in verde sauces, stuffed as chile rellenos, roasted or used raw for salsa.

New Mexico Hatch Peppers
It's said that every New Mexican cook worth his or her salt has their own signature chili verde recipe. My recipe uses chicken breast instead of pork, but you could certainly substitute an equal amount of lean pork (and saute until browned). Most recipes call for roasted hatch chilies, but some cooks prefer the brighter flavor achieved with the fresh, raw chilies. Because I was pressed for time, I opted for using raw hatch peppers instead of roasting them first, and I let the chili simmer for good, long time over low heat. Next time I'll try roasting the peppers, and/or making this in my crock pot. My recipe makes 4 to 6 servings, and can be served with tortillas, corn bread or rice.

1 Tbs plus 1 Tbs vegetable or canola oil (not olive oil)
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 Tbs flour (whole wheat will work)
4 large Hatch chili peppers (approx. 1/2 lb), diced (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano or Marjoram (don't use Mediterranean oregano)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Optional garnishes: Lime wedges, thinly sliced radishes, chopped avocado, chopped fresh cilantro

Simmering Chile Verde (Green Chili)
In a large, deep saucepan, saute the onion & garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 or 5 minutes until surface of chicken is cooked but the chunks are not yet cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken, onion & garlic into a bowl and set aside, then add remaining tablespoon of oil to the saucepan.  Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light brown roux. Slowly add the water, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Return the chicken, onion & garlic to the saucepan, stir in the remaining ingredients except the salt, and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peppers are tender and chicken is cooked through. Uncover, stir and continue to simmer (adjust heat if needed) until desired thickness is reached. Stir in the salt, taste for balance and adjust seasonings if desired: e.g., add more salt or cumin or oregano/marjoram. If desired, serve garnished with lime wedges, radish slices, avocado and/or chopped cilantro.

Zestfully yours,

Note: My late-season hatch peppers were definitely on the hot side, and my green chili turned out to be quite spicy. If, however, your Hatch chilies are too mild for your taste, you can bump up the heat by adding a few splashes of a jalapeno hot sauce like El Yucateco Jalapeno Hot Sauce or Blair's Heat Jalapeno Tequila Hot Sauce. Another excellent hot sauce choice, especially if you like tomatillos and cilantro, is Under the Influence Tomatillo Hot Sauce.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top 5 Zesty Burger Condiments

cheeseburger in paradise
Flickr photo by emerson12
Today is National Cheeseburger Day, so it seems appropriate to list my top five favorite burger condiments, from 5th to 1st. Whether you prefer grass-fed beef or fast-food fare, veggie burgers or venison patties, or any other style of cheeseburger in between, you won't go wrong with one or more of these zesty condiments:

5.  Barbecue Sauce: Many people who enjoy barbeque sauce on burgers--particularly on grilled cheeseburgers topped with cheddar or pepperjack cheese--are looking for a big, bold tomato based BBQ sauce that's a little bit sweet and a little bit sassy to complement the hearty flavors of the burger. My favorite for pouring on a burger is Outta the Park BBQ Sauce, a North Carolina original that's not a vinegar-based barbecue sauce, but rather a classic All-American sauce with lots of savory-sweet tomato. The Original finishes with a bit of a spicy kick while the Hot & Spicy version adds a secret blend of hot peppers for a feisty heat.

4.  Relish:  While a lot of burger enthusiasts stick with traditional pickle relish made from cucumber, I prefer the flavor and fire of a good, spicy pepper relish. An excellent choice is Texas Longhorn Bread & Butter Jalapeno Dip, chock-full of chopped green jalapeno peppers pickled in a tangy-sweet "bread and butter" style brine for a burst of fiery heat and mouthwatering relish-like flavor.

Spicy Pickles
3.  Pickles: You either love them or hate them on your cheeseburger. I love them. And because I tend towards hot & spicy foods when given a choice, my recommendation is Tabasco Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles. There's just enough peppery heat to tickle your tastebuds, while the garlic provides a pleasant pungency that complements the meatiness of a good burger (and also enhances the flavor of veggie burgers).

2.  Mustard:  I must confess that most of the time, I don't put mustard on my cheeseburger if I'm eating a beef burger.... but if the patty is made from another ground meat such as venison, chicken or turkey, or if I'm eating a veggie cheeseburger, the sharp tang of a good mustard makes the overall flavor more enticing, at least to my palate. And when I'm faced with a non-beef burger and I'm craving a meaty flavor, my choice of mustard is Jim Beam Bacon Mustard. It's a classic American mustard that's dressed up with a splash of Kentucky bourbon and the unmistakeably meaty, smoky flavor of bacon.

Black Pepper Ketchup
1.  Ketchup:  Hands down, my favorite condiment for a cheeseburger (or any burger) is ketchup, ideally a high-quality ketchup like one of Melinda's Ketchups, made with the finest all-natural ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup for a grown-up, gourmet flavor that's neither one-dimensional nor cloyingly sweet like the major brands you find at the supermarket.  Melinda's Ketchups come in five different varieties with varying levels of spice: The mildest is her Black Pepper Ketchup with an upscale flavor and a touch of peppery zip; next is Melinda's Jalapeno Ketchup with a pleasant medium heat and distinctive jalapeno pepper tang; then there's her Chipotle Ketchup with similar heat but that earthy chipotle smokiness; then for serious chileheads Melinda makes a fiery-hot Habanero Ketchup that's one of the hottest (and tastiest) on the market; and finally there's the incendiary Naga Jolokia Ketchup made with the notorious ghost pepper, considered by many to be the world's hottest hot pepper.

What's your favorite cheeseburger condiment? Leave us a comment below to let us know, or tell us on the Carolina Sauce Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

Zestfully yours,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grilled-Eggplant & Tomato Stacks

If you're on a low carb or low fat diet--or if you're simply trying to eat healthier--and miss the hearty flavors of traditional eggplant parmesan, my Grilled-Eggplant and Tomato Stacks are a tasty alternative that will please the palate without blowing your diet. Instead of breading and frying the eggplant, I grill the slices and season them with Italian herbs and spices. A George Foreman Grill makes this  step quick and easy while providing the convenience of cooking indoors, but you can certainly use an outdoor grill. Instead of using tomato sauce, which can be high in sugar unless you make your own, I use slices of juicy, ripe heirloom tomato--any homegrown or farm-fresh tomato will provide a richer, fuller flavor than ordinary supermarket tomatoes but those will work, too. And in place of all the cheese in traditional eggplant parm recipes, a sprinkling of a good-quality shredded parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese delivers mouthwatering cheesiness while keeping the fat and calorie count in check.

For best results, use a globe eggplant and a large tomato, and try to pair slices of each that are similar in size. The small eggplant I used was enough to serve two people as part of a main course (you'll want to serve with either a whole-grain pasta or other starch, and/or with a protein such as grilled steak, roast chicken, pork chops, etc.) or as an appetizer or first course for 3 or 4. To feed more, just double the ingredient quantities or use 1 large eggplant and a couple of tomatoes. Don't get hung up on the amounts below; feel free to tweak and modify to suit your taste and needs.

Grilling the eggplant
Olive oil, approx. 1 to 2 Tbs
1 small globe eggplant (approx. 3/4 lb)
1 large tomato (approx. 3/4 lb)
1/2 cup (approx) shredded Parmigiano cheese
Dried or fresh minced herbs for seasoning, to taste (I used basil & oregano, but thyme and /or rosemary also work)
Sea Salt & cracked black pepper for seasoning, to taste

Trim the eggplant and cut into 1/2" thick rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and grill until tender, approx. 9 or 10 minutes on a George Foreman grill. While the eggplant is grilling, use an extremely sharp knife to slice the tomato into slightly thinner rounds.

Stacked & ready to broil
Preheat broiler and move the top rack to the second set of rungs from the top. Line a broiler pan with foil and brush with olive oil. Place the eggplant rounds in a single layer on the foil. Use your fingers to very lightly sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on each round (this will help to keep the stacks together), then top each round with a slice of tomato, matching similar-sized rounds of eggplant and tomato. Sprinkle each tomato with your choice of herbs plus a little salt & pepper, all to taste.  Sprinkle some shredded parmesan cheese on top of each tomato slice, using as much or as little cheese as you want. Place pan on the top rack under the broiler (on the second-from-top rungs) and broil for a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown--this happens QUICKLY so keep a close eye on the stacks to avoid burning.  Remove pan from oven, let sit for a minute to "set" and use a spatula to carefully move the stacks onto one or more plates.

Bacon Hot Sauce
Zestfully yours,

PS: If you like splashing some hot sauce on eggplant parm or other cheesy, tomato-ey Italian dishes, I recommend Blues Habanero Reserve Hot Sauce for its clean habanero flavor & fire (it's not too vinegary), or for a dash of meaty bacon flavor try Bacon Hot Sauce, both of which are on sale at the Carolina Sauces online store.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Risotto with Roasted Summer Vegetables & Chicken

I call this tummy-soothing yet flavorful dish "Italian comfort food." If you have leftover roasted vegetables and leftover cooked chicken, you can make this simple risotto recipe. The risotto itself is just my basic risotto recipe, to which you can add whatever "extras" you like: Cooked shrimp, toasted pine nuts or other nuts, dried or fresh chopped herbs, sun-dried tomatoes or halved grape tomatoes, cooked spinach or other greens, grilled asparagus or other vegetables, and more.

The chicken broth gives the risotto a richer flavor and creamier mouth-feel than water, but you could use water or vegetable broth if you prefer. You could even substitute a half-cup of white wine for an equal amount of broth. The starch in Carnaroli rice doesn't dissolve as much during cooking and thus this type of rice produces a creamier risotto, while the more easily dissolved starch in arborio rice will result in a "stickier" texture. Use whichever type of rice for risotto you prefer or have on hand.

Without further ado, here's my recipe for risotto, served with roasted vegetables and chicken.

Carnaroli Rice 2.2 lbs
Carnaroli rice
1 Tbs butter
1 cup carnaroli rice*
3 1/2 cups (approx.) chicken broth (I use homemade)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (use the real stuff)
1 cup (approx.) roasted vegetables of your choice
3/4 to 1 cup (approx.) coarsely chopped or shredded cooked chicken
Salt & Pepper to taste
Optional: dried or chopped fresh herb(s) to taste (I used dried thyme)

*You could probably substitute arborio rice - I happened to have carnaroli on hand.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until well-coated and fragrant. Stir in 1 cup of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly to a low boil and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add another half-cup or ladle of broth and cook at a low boil or simmer, stirring frequently, until mostly absorbed. Repeat this process, adjusting the cooking temperature as needed to keep at a low boil or simmer, until the rice is creamy and reaches desired tenderness--I used a total of 3 1/2 cups of broth, allowing the final batch to absorb fully. Reduce heat, stir in the cheese, then stir in the vegetables and chicken. Taste for balance and season with salt, pepper & herbs as desired, then cook for a minute or two, stirring regularly, until heated through. Serve immediately (makes 4 to 6 servings).

Zestfully yours,
Carolina Sauce Company, Inc.

PS: The vegetables shown in the photos and used in this recipe are leftovers from my Roasted Summer Vegetables recipe.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Carolina Sauce Newsletter: Back to School Savings & Freebies

School Crossing
Flickr photo by Kt Ann
Back to School Coupon Sale

School's back in session, and so are the savings when you use the coupon code HotSept2012 at the Carolina Sauces online store! This special Newsletter coupon gets you 5% off your product total through Sept. 30th when you enter it online at checkout. It's good on all Carolina Sauces products, you can use it as often as you wish, you can share it with friends, and there's no minimum purchase required. Just remember to enter the code HotSept2012 (no spaces) at checkout. ***This coupon expires at midnight on September 30th, and does not apply to the Jim's Own products or other Partner products.***

Latest New Products

Bullgator Sauce
Here's what's new since our last Newsletter (and YES the HotSept2012 coupon is good on all these new products):

NEW Hot Sauces & BBQ Sauce

*Gator Hammock Bullgator BBQ & Steak Sauce: This sweet & sassy tomato based sauce combines guava & lime for a tropical twist, adds Worcestershire for savory depth, and a dash of habaneros for peppery zip. Great on steaks, ribs, chicken, & pork.

*Pain is Good Diva Hot Sauces feature the famous screaming-head label, but this time they're gals instead of guys. Flavors include Asian-inspired #66 Jalapeno-Wasabi (awesome on seafood, sushi, chicken--and no, that's NOT Sarah Palin on the label); exotic & fiery #112 Jalapeno Harissa (excellent on beef, pork & chicken, and inspired by North African harissa); and spicy-sweet mustard-based #164 Honey Cayenne (superb on chicken, ribs, shrimp & veggies).

*Melinda's Fire-Roasted Habanero Pepper Sauce: Similar to a chipotle sauce but hotter, this all-natural, smoky Caribbean hot sauce is made from fire-roasted choice red habanero peppers and garlic for a big, bold flavor.

NEW Sweet Stuff

Red Habanero Pepper Jelly
*Jim Beam Bourbon Pancake Syrup: Sweet, southern-style pancake syrup with a splash of smooth Kentucky bourbon whiskey for a rich, deep caramel & vanilla notes. Try it over ice cream or in oatmeal, as a glaze, and over waffles, French toast or biscuits.

*Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper Jellies are authentic, all-natural Caribbean pepper jellies from Belize, which means they're a lot hotter than your typical American pepper jellies. Available in red habanero pepper jelly and green habanero pepper jelly, enjoy these sweet-fiery condiments with ham, chicken, seafood, lamb, spooned over warm brie or with cream cheese as a spread.

*Marie Sharp's Sweet Orange Pepper Jelly is naturally sweet with a delicate orange flavor that the whole family will love (it's NOT spicy). Spread it on toast, English muffins, bagels and anywhere else you'd use jelly or marmalade.

NEW Mustards

Bacon Mustard
*Bacon Mustard: Yes, this American yellow mustard tastes like bacon! And for even richer flavor it has a touch of Jim Beam bourbon. One taste and you'll never use ordinary yellow mustard on your hot dogs, sandwiches or burgers again.

*Bourbon Mustard: If bacon isn't your "thing" but you're bored with mass-produced mustards, this Bourbon Mustard from Jim Beam will wake up your taste buds and dress up your sandwiches, hot dogs and anything else on which you use it.

*Tobago Keys Honey Mustard: This unique honey mustard gets its island flavor and kick from just enough habaneros to make it zesty and not too hot. Enjoy it as a condiment, dressing, or mixed into your favorite chicken or tuna or egg salads.

NEW Dips & Snacks

Spicy Artichoke Spinach Dip
*Fiesta Spicy Artichoke Spinach Dip: This dairy-free dip is a fusion of spicy tomato salsa with artichoke & spinach for an unusually delicious alternative to creamy (and high-fat) spinach artichoke dips. Incredibly good with chips, pita wedges, raw veggies, or as a topping for grilled chicken, roast pork, broiled or fried fish, etc.

*Fiesta Artichoke Spinach Con Queso Dip: Think of this as a Mexican twist on traditional creamy artichoke spinach dip. Cream cheese, spinach and artichokes get an energizing kick from jalapenos and and hot pepper sauce for a festive change of pace for this classic party favorite.

*Tabasco Spicy Garlic Dill Pickles: Thin dill pickle slices are seasoned with Tabasco sauce to add just the right touch of peppery heat to hamburgers, sandwiches, subs & wraps. Chop them up & blend with mayo to make homemade spicy tartar sauce, or chop to add to salads & spreads.

You can see ALL our newest products on our New Products Page.

Jim's Own BBQ Sauce is Back!

Jim's Own BBQ Sauce & Dry Rubs
We've partnered directly with the manufacturer to bring you Jim's Own BBQ Sauce again! A North Carolina favorite and award-winner, Jim's Own is a tangy-sweet vinegar & tomato barbecue sauce (i.e., Piedmont or Lexington style, aka western NC) with a touch of spice. Perfect for pulled or chopped pork BBQ, Jim's Own is also excellent as a marinade & grilling sauce for chicken, beef & seafood, plus it's super-tasty in the kitchen, too. The original is the mild Jim's Own Homestyle BBQ Sauce, and for fans of hot & spicy foods there's Jim's Own Hot BBQ Sauce with hot peppers added to the original. Two newer flavors are Jim's Own Mustard BBQ Sauce (inspired by South Carolina BBQ) and Jim's Own Smokey BBQ Sauce with a natural earthy smokiness. All 4 varieties come in pints, quarts AND gallons, and you can also buy by the case.

But there's more: We also offer the brand-new Jim's Own Mild Rub and Jim's Own Smokey Rub, which add mouthwatering flavor to ribs, pork butt, chicken, brisket, roasts & more. The BBQ Rubs come in 5oz bags or cases of 6 bags. You can order all of these sauces & rubs from our NEW Jim's Own BBQ Sauce page. And although the September coupon doesn't apply to Jim's Own products, the folks at Jim's Own are throwing in a FREE SAMPLE of one of their other products with every order from our new page.

Jim's Own Chicken & Apricot Kebabs

This mouthwatering recipe is courtesy of Jim's Own BBQ Sauce.

2 ½ pounds skinless deboned chicken breast fillets
1 packet Mediterranean apricots
1 onion chopped in quarters
Green or Red peppers (optional)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup Jim’s Own BBQ Sauce: Mild, Hot or Mustard

Mix the thyme with the Jim’s Own Sauce of your choice. Cut the chicken in 1 to 1.5 inch cubes and marinate it in half a cup of the Jim’s Own Sauce Mild, Hot or Mustard for 2 to 4 hours or overnight. After marinating skewer the meat, apricots, onion and optional peppers onto metal or bamboo skewers and grill over medium heat.

Want Free Sauce? "Like" Us on Facebook!

Want to win FREE sauces and seasonings? Then play the Crock Pot Game on October 1st on the Carolina Sauce Company Facebook page!  We post a new game on our Facebook page on the 1st day of each month. Just follow the rules and post your answer on our FB page, and we'll select a winner each month to receive free products, a gift certificate, or other zesty prize. The next Crock Pot Game will be posted on October 1st, so be sure to "Like" us on Facebook in order to play.  Our Facebook page is also the place to find additional coupons, special offers and private sales--simply click on the "Coupons" tab (with the green dollar sign) to access the current offers.  We love hearing from you, too, so please leave us a comment and feel free to share your food photos, recipes, BBQ/food blog, or other zesty info on our page.

Zestfully yours,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Remembrance...

September 11th Memorial | 9-11-09
Flickr photo by idovermani

On this 11th anniversary, we pause for a moment out of respect for and in remembrance of all who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, and in gratitude for all who responded to rescue, assist, and serve on that day and onwards.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them all, and their families, friends and loved ones.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Spicy Black Bean & Avocado Salad

This simple but flavor-packed salad has a zesty kick and is also good for you: The black beans provide protein and fiber, the avocado supplies healthy fats, and the vegetables deliver vitamins and antioxidants.

You can serve this black bean and avocado salad on a bed of lettuce or as a chunky "dip" with tortilla chips, pita wedges, or raw vegetables such as cucumber slices, diagonally-sliced carrots or celery sticks.

If you make this salad ahead of time, cover well with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the salad and hold in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Because freshly-cut avocado easily browns when exposed to air, if you have to make this salad more than a couple of hours ahead of time, I recommend that you wait until just before serving to add the avocado.

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, well-rinsed & drained
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & diced
El Yucateco Hot Sauce
10 grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion (or green onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp chili powder (to taste)
1 or more dashes El Yucateco Hot Sauce, to taste (habanero or jalapeno)
1 small avocado (ripe but firm), diced
1 1/2 tsp fresh-squeezed lime juice (or juice from half a small lime)
Optional garnish: lime zest, fresh cilantro

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Add avocado, sprinkle with lime juice, and gently fold into the beans using a silicone spatula. Taste for balance and adjust seasonings as desired. Serves 4. If desired, garnish with some lime zest and/or fresh cilantro before serving.

Zestfully yours,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Gator Hammock Bullgator Steak & BBQ Sauce

Gator Hammock Bullgator BBQ Sauce
Gator Hammock Bullgator Sauce
The newest barbecue sauce from Gator Hammock delivers a taste of the tropics in a rich, spicy-sweet and tastefully tangy tomato base. Gator Hammock Bullgator Barbecue Sauce combines their famous cayenne Gator Sauce with traditional barbecue sauce ingredients like tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. The folks at Gator Hammock could have stopped right there and released a lip-smackin' good, peppery-spicy BBQ sauce, and had a winner.

But they didn't stop there.

Instead, they chose to create a world-class champion by adding exotic island guavas and tangy key lime juice for bright tropical fruit notes that are more sassy than sweet. And as the finishing touch, a few habanero peppers were thrown in for wallop of fiery heat that's big enough to make you notice, but not so much as to wipe out your taste buds or overwhelm your food.

This big, bold barbeque sauce goes great with anything you grill, be it beef, pork, venison or other game; chicken, turkey, alligator or other "white meat," and even shrimp, portobellos, squash and other hearty seafood or vegetables. It's a natural on ribs, both pork and beef.

But don't limit it to the grill: Gator Hammock Bullgator Sauce is also a steak sauce! Try it with sirloin, T-bone, brisket and other beef cuts at the table; pour it on hamburgers and steak sandwiches; enjoy it with scrambled eggs and sausage, and use it anywhere else you'd use a steak sauce or ketchup--yes, it's great for dipping fries, too.

Gator Hammock Bullgator Steak & BBQ Sauce is currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company online store.

Zestfully yours,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Easy Roasted Summer Vegetables

Here's a "throw cooking" idea that will work with all sorts of summer vegetables, including squashes, tomatoes (smaller ones in particular), sweet peppers, hot peppers (in moderation unless you're a serious heat addict), onions, celery, carrots and more. I threw in a big handful of peeled garlic cloves in with the raw veggies because I love the flavor of roasted garlic.

Roasting is a great way to cook up an overabundance of produce, because you can refrigerate the leftovers and then use them in everything from omelets and scrambled eggs to sandwiches, pasta and rice dishes. I like to toss leftover roasted vegetables with a little balsamic vinegar and serve them over a salad in lieu of a salad dressing. After making these earlier in the week, I used some of the leftovers along with some leftover cooked chicken in a risotto for a simple one-bowl meal later in the week.

The only work involved is the peeling of any vegetables that require it, e.g., onions and carrots, and then chopping the vegetables into sizes that will result in all of them being done at the same time. My carrot chunks were no more than 1/2" thick, while my celery chunks were larger and I left the garlic cloves and grape tomatoes uncut. I set my oven to preheat at 425°F and then began peeling and chopping, placing the prepped vegetables directly into my large Pyrex glass baking dish. After tossing in the garlic cloves, I generously drizzled everything with olive oil and used a large spoon to stir and gently toss the vegetables until they were all coated with the oil and the bottom of the pan was also lightly coated. I then seasoned with some fresh rosemary, a light sprinkling of sea salt (you can use Kosher salt or regular table salt) and several twists from my pepper mill. If you're feeling feisty, you can add some red pepper flakes, too. You can also use other fresh herbs instead of or in addition to the rosemary, e.g., thyme, oregano, basil, etc., or use dried herbs if you don't have fresh.

Maverick Voice Alert Remote Oven Thermometer and Timer
Remote Oven Thermometer & Timer
Once the oven was ready, I placed the baking dish on the middle rack to roast at 425°F and set the oven timer to 20 minutes. When the timer buzzed, I removed the pan from the oven to stir the vegetables so as to ensure even roasting, and based on how they looked I decided to roast for an additional 10 minutes. Depending on your oven, which types and how many veggies you're roasting, and how you like them done, you might want to roast them longer or proclaim them ready to eat after just 20 minutes.

When the roasted vegetables are finished cooking, you can serve them as a side dish, or tossed with cooked pasta, or in a quesadilla or wrap, perhaps combined with some shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, crumbled feta cheese, or even with a few splashes of a straightforward hot sauce like Texas Pete, Tabasco Sauce, or a classic cayenne pepper sauce like Gator Hammock.

How do you enjoy your roasted vegetables? Leave a comment to let us know.

Zestfully yours,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pain is Good Diva Hot Sauces have Arrived!

Pain is Good Hot Sauces
The Pain is Good hot sauce brand is well-known for its unique "screaming head" labels: Each of their hot sauces, wing sauces and other Pain is Good products bears a simple brown label dominated by a head shot of a guy screaming in pain... or more accurately, in painful joy, because pain is good, at least according to them. At least in the context of these zesty, all-natural hot and spicy sauces, I must agree with their name: Pain is Good hot sauces do, indeed, taste quite good and deliver a happy hit of peppery "pain" along with fabulous flavor.

Up until now, we've had only the three original Pain is Good Hot Sauces--#37 Garlic Hot Sauce, #114 Jamaican Hot Sauce, and #218 Louisiana Hot Sauce--all of which feature screaming men on the label. It's high time we gave equal representation to female fans of fiery foods, and thus it's my pleasure to announce that the Carolina Sauces online store now offers the three "Diva" Pain is Good hot sauces with screaming women on the labels!
Jalapeno Wasabi Sauce

The first is Pain is Good #66 Jalapeno Wasabi Hot Sauce, a fascinating fusion of Asian flavors like wasabi, pungent mustard, horseradish and ginger with New World jalapeno peppers. The result is an eye-catching light green hot sauce--the color is natural--with an intriguingly engaging flavor and zippy medium heat with a touch of that trademark sinus-clearing zing of wasabi and Chinese mustard. Of course this a great sauce to splash on Chinese takeout or on homemade stir-fry dishes, and it's a zippy dip for sushi, egg rolls, panko-breaded fried shrimp and other Asian-themed foods. But it's also great on tacos, burritos, chimichangas, drizzled over nachos, with tostadas and other Mexican or Southwestern fare.

Jalapeno Harissa Sauce
The next new Diva hot sauce is Pain is Good #112 Jalapeno Harissa Hot Sauce, another inventive blend of spicy flavors from different parts of the globe. Harissa is a traditional fiery condiment from Morocco and other northern African cultures, with an intensely fiery, pungent flavor. In this hot sauce, harissa is blended with jalapeno peppers, cilantro and other ingredients not typically associated with harissa, all in a tomato base that helps to keep the heat level at a manageable medium-hot while adding richness in flavor and texture. This jalapeno-harissa hot sauce is a natural with grilled food, especially meats, burgers and chicken thighs. You can also enjoy it at the table with any robust food whenever you want to jolt your taste buds and get the juices flowing.

Honey Cayenne Sauce
Last but not least is Pain is Good #164 Honey Cayenne Hot Sauce, a playfully spicy-sweet cayenne pepper sauce that's sweetened with real honey while mustard and orange juice add refreshingly sassy tang. The flavors tempt and tease you with just enough of a burn to keep you from overindulging yet making you want just one more bite. This hot sauce is the epitome of "food friendly" and will complement any recipe or dish with which you'd normally use a cayenne sauce. It's great with shrimp and seafood as well as with chicken--try it in your recipe for homemade Buffalo wings!--and with ribs (pork or beef), with grilled or roasted vegetables, and even with kielbasa, bratwurst and other sausages.

All three new Pain is Good Diva Hot Sauces, as well as the original three Pain is Good hot sauces, are currently on sale at the Carolina Sauce Company.

Zestfully yours,